OpenSea, the prominent NFT marketplace startup, has laid off about half of its staff, the company confirmed to Decrypt on Friday.
A company representative told Decrypt that approximately 50% of employees were impacted across the company. The company would not clarify the number of people affected by the moves.
“Today, we are making significant organizational and operating changes as we focus on building a more nimble—and ultimately better—version of OpenSea,” a spokesperson said. “With these changes, we are better positioned to deliver for the community, shipping high-impact efforts and matching the speed at which this space evolves.”
Devin Finzer, co-founder and CEO of OpenSea, elaborated on the statement in a Twitter thread, highlighting how the company has streamlined its team in an effort to launch a next-generation version of the marketplace.
We’re building a new foundation so we can innovate faster and we’ll have some experiences to share with you soon. We will change how we operate – shifting to a smaller team with a direct connection to users.
So today, we’re saying goodbye to a number of OpenSea teammates.
— Devin Finzer (dfinzer.eth) (@dfinzer) November 3, 2023
“We’ve also heard your feedback loud and clear: at times, OpenSea feels like a follower, not a leader. And that’s not who we want to be,” Finzer wrote. “We want to move with speed, quality, and conviction to make more meaningful bets.”
“Today, we’re re-orienting the team around ‘OpenSea 2.0,’ a big upgrade to our product—including the underlying technology, reliability, speed, quality, [and] experience,” Finzer added.
A spokesperson added that OpenSea will adopt a flatter organizational approach going forward. Employees affected by the layoffs will be provided four months’ worth of severance pay, six months of health care and mental health services, and an accelerated timetable for equity vesting.
OpenSea was the largest marketplace during the NFT market boom across 2021 and 2022, routinely racking up billions of dollars’ worth of monthly trading volume for artwork, profile pictures, and other tokenized collectibles during that span.
The startup parlayed that success into substantial funding, last raising $300 million at a $13.3 billion valuation in January 2022 for its Series C round. That funding was co-led by Paradigm and Coatue.
However, the NFT market began losing steam in mid-2022 alongside falling cryptocurrency prices. As rival marketplaces began rejecting creator royalties—or a small fee taken from a secondary market sale that’s paid back to the project creator—OpenSea took flak late last year for considering a similar move.
OpenSea opted not to change its royalties policy at the time, following substantial pushback from creators, but then ultimately said this summer that it would stop enforcing mandatory royalty payments for most NFT sales as of August 31.
By that time, OpenSea had already fallen behind leading marketplace Blur in terms of NFT trading volume, in the wake of Blur’s token-based trading incentives, although OpenSea still boasts the most traders of any marketplace.
According to data from Dune, OpenSea had over 32,000 unique wallets between its standard and Pro marketplaces over the past week, more than double Blur’s tally. But Blur commanded about 70% of the total NFT sales market share over the past week with over $51 million worth of sales.
OpenSea previously laid off about 20% of its staff in July 2022, with Finzer citing “an unprecedented combination of crypto winter and broad macroeconomic instability” ahead of a potential “prolonged downturn.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated after publication with additional details.